Early Memories of Mum

“So, why didn’t Mum realise what she was doing?” I asked earnestly.
“I don’t think she realised because you were so little and couldn’t explain to her.” Replied my big sister.
We were talking about our memories of Mum after her funeral. My older sister and I, best friends, together in our sadness.
“So, how old were you when it happened?” I questioned.
“Well, I’m eight years older than you, and if you were two, that would make me 10.” she replied.
“I’m not sure if I actually remember it, or whether the story told by you, Mum and Dad, made it seem like an actual memory.” I pondered. It seems really funny to be talking about it now, after Mum had gone, the incident had been discussed by the family on countless occasions, much to Mum’s embarrassment.
I know that we were getting ready to go to my cousin, Barbara’s wedding in London. We were living in part of an old house in the East End, sharing it with an elderly couple. Mum, Dad, my big brother and sister and me crammed into two rooms. Sharing a small kitchen, with no work surface, just a cooker, a big sink and a door to the back garden.
I was about two years old and Mummy was getting me ready. We were in the kitchen and she sat me on top of the cooker to fasten the buckles on my shoes. The old-fashioned cooker had a rectangular hot plate and two circular hot plates at the back. They hadn’t been used that day.
As Mummy started to tighten the buckles, I began to cry. Thinking that she had tightened the shoes too much, she loosened them and tried again. I started to scream and not having the ability to communicate effectively yet, this was the only way I could indicate my predicament.
My sister tried to help, by undoing my other shoe and doing it up looser. My screams grew louder, enough to bring my Daddy into the kitchen to investigate the hullabaloo.
As soon as he opened the kitchen door, he saw my problem and immediately scooped me up in his arms and told my Mummy off for putting me on the top of the cooker.
“But I haven’t used the hot plates today,” she declared.
“I know, but I cooked some toast under the grill this morning and that would have transferred the heat to the hot plate.” Daddy retorted.
By this time my sister was looking at the back of my pretty white dress, all ready for the wedding and said “Mum, her dress has scorched at the back!”
“Oh, my goodness me” Mummy said and pulled up my dress and looked down inside my frilly drawers to find two very red, hot cheeks looking back at her.
“I didn’t realise that was why she was crying, I thought I was doing her shoes up too tight.” Mummy whispered guiltily.
The result is that I’ve never been slow on saying what I feel since!
502 words
Sandy Bryson

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